What we stand for

Our volunteers and staff are guided by the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The seven fundamental principles

The fundamental principles were created in Vienna in 1965. They bind together the National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. This makes the British Red Cross part of a worldwide movement.

The fundamental principles mean that people we help can trust that we’re neutral, independent and impartial. Our supporters know that we help those most in need both in the UK and internationally, and our staff and volunteers can see they’re a part of something unique.

The seven fundamental principles are:

Humanity

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield. The Movement endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found.

It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, co-operation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

Impartiality

The Movement makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.

It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Neutrality

In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Independence

The Movement is independent. The National Societies, whilst auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary service

It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

Unity

There can only be one Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

Universality

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

The British Red Cross promotes and communicates the fundamental principles in the UK and overseas. This includes projects aimed at young people in schools and universities in the UK.

The principles in action today

A flash of hope

Around the world, whenever a humanitarian crisis occurs, the Red Cross or Red Crescent is always one of the first organisations on the scene thanks to our kind volunteers.

Today, the challenges posed by an unpredictable and often changing global landscape have never been greater. But our principles still ring true.

They still guide us through adversity. They still command respect. They still make the Red Cross unique.

Protection at all costs

We recognise we’re only able to work in conflict zones such as Yemen, Syria and South Sudan because we’re neutral, impartial and independent, and because the red cross and red crescent emblems reflect these principles.

This is why it is important we celebrate the principles and make as much noise as possible about why they matter.

Principles in action project

Our Principles in action project explores how the fundamental principles help the Red Cross across the world.

Using real-life examples, the project shows how the principles help staff and volunteers gain access to, and help, people in need. You can download the project's in-depth reports below.